First I just want to say how honored I am and how fun it is to be the “token guy” here at Meaningful Mom Magazine. What a great group of Mom’s who write so very well.
What I want most for you to know is that I am humbled to be speaking to you and sharing my best “Guy Energy.” This is from my heart and I know what I am sharing is true and has helped everyone who takes this information seriously and begins taking continued focused steps in a healing direction.
There is one thing you can do to win every argument you will ever have. No matter who it is you feel conflict with your parents, siblings, partner, children, friends, or an enemy.
If you can do this one thing, you will be able to lower the stress in every relationship. Anyone can do and no one has to loose.
I must warn you, once you know this secrete that I am about to tell you, you will be responsible for doing your best to do take care of your side of the street (emotionally) or there will be lost sleep, hurt and frustration. There you warned, if you’re still reading this, you are ready to know….
Want a better relationship? FIRST AND FOREMOST STOP USING ALL DIRTY FIGHTING TECHNIQUES. And we all do it, even if you are a saint, and if there is any dirty conflict around you, you have had to learn how to at least deal dirty fighting. Relationships don’t stay in the happiest place for ever, if you want good ones you have to do serious maintenance regularly.
I will tell you the big secret on how to stop in just a moment, first there a couple of things that are helpful before you use this magic power to live as happily ever after as possible, just know this takes some hard consistent work in being aware of your feelings and expressing them healthfully.
While I will give a basic definition of dirty fighting, you know what it is already. No one escapes life without being exposed to it. After all, conflict is rarely painless, and since we have plenty of conflict, we may as well be better off afterword.
Most of our learning about conflict resolution comes from our parents. Maybe you saw many fights between your parents that were highly volatile and frightening at times, or, you saw your parents have “loud discussions” that usually ended with one parent getting their way. Or perhaps you grew up in single parent homes and saw off again on again dating. This has it’s own kind of conflict.
Other’s have never even saw their parents fight with each other. Actually, none of these ways of expressing are healthy. And you might think that parents’ not fighting in front of you was better, and that is not likely.
When you do not see your parents have conflict and resolve it in a reasonable and healthy way you are likely to have few tools on how to get your needs met. Oftentimes, a person who has never seen their parents fight and a person whose parents fought very dirty get together. Regardless of your upbringing we tend to choose someone within eleven points of our I.Q. and with a matching emotional issue. We see this in our coaching practice often as part of what we call a “KeyDagger.”
KeyDagger is our way of referencing that fact that we tend to choose someone who holds the key to our hearts and on that key they also hold a little dagger. The key opens us to full sensual vulnerability and the dagger cuts us where we have been hurt before. Often we set ourselves up to be hurt where we have been hurt before. This is because often hurt is confusing. Confusion is a sure sign of shame. This is because shame tells us we are bad people and we know deep down we are not bad, we sometimes engage in bad behavior but this is where healthy guilt tells us that we can do better. When we receive the message we are bad this is toxic shame and it does not compute (confusion) because the truth is we all are doing our best, with the exception of the rare sociopath or psychopath.
It can stop here, gaining the insight needed to take that accountability for how expectations are soured by a lack of listening and believing that others pain is real. This sabotages our true goals. AND the good news is that with enough practice of truly understanding others motivations there ability to see new solutions in every relationship conflict because you take away your half of the conflict. It is “bullyproofing” yourself. And when a mom does this for herself she is therefore teaching your children to do this for themselves as well.
A good general principle is that any interaction that uses meanness, anger, revenge, guilt, shame or disrespect is dirty fighting. Even using the “Fair” rules established can be done “dirty.”
Dirty Fighting is any meanness behind an action, any communication done in hurt, anger, or any emotion you go to when you loose your cool. Oh, and everything you do is communication because, well, you are a Mom. To be fair you don’t have to be solely accountable or responsible for all of this just your part, that is as long as you take your accountability and can ask for help well, or at least ask for some cooperation. Asking for help happens to be the next Token Guy article.
There are many technics and profiles used in dirty fighting. It is easy to get distracted by many of the specifics of things like exaggeration, sneak attack, Crucializing and many others.
Here is the most important example and the core of changing the outcome of conflict.
- Blaming: probably one of the most common dirty fighting technics is making someone else responsible for how you feel. Notice this may or may not be related to the confect at hand. Fights are rarely about what happened today, that is why they are fights, there is motivation behind the high emotions, almost always pain from previous hurts and fights. Blaming is done several ways.
- Suggestion: Ok everyone knows about how “I” statements are better than “you” statements. The foundation of using this wisdom well is taking responsibility for how you feel. Marla and I are firm believers in the fact that each us chooses how we feel. Yes, the world is a painful place and yes sometimes situations and health form a “Perfect Storm” of hurt. EVERY PERIOD OF EXHAUSTION LEADS TO A PERIOD OF DEPRESSION. It is ok to feel sadness (anger frustration, insecurity and worse) in this state of chemical reality. What matters is what you do with how you feel.
What we see over and over again is what people “make up” about our pain that leads to how we feel at conflict resolution. And at the bottom of what everyone makes up about the pain in their lives is the value that they believe about themselves. It helps to believe in your head and in your heart that you are worthy.
So here is the slow hard won magic.
- Work hard on feeling and believing that your heart is good, your life has meaning and that you are worthy of love. This is a spiritual task and this spiritual work is best done in a shame free group.
- Track and examine your feelings, expressing them fully in a healthy way to the right people.
- When hurt or when a hurt is brought to you take the pain seriously and consider carefully what you want and how to ask for it best.
- Reserve the right to have the conversation in fifteen minutes. Take a moment, feel the pain, let it be real, journal real quick or breath deeply in whatever spiritual practice you have to focus on your desired outcome. Take a “time out” whenever you need it. As long as you are consistent in coming back calm, anyone who argues with a pre-arranged time out is using the “need to process now” as manipulation. Get professional help if you are consistently feeling manipulated, or any time you feel fear for your safety. Call 911 discreetly if three is any physical violence.
- Come back to the conversations knowing that you and they are worthy of love. Turns out we fight with those we love the most, the most. And it also turns out that Mom’s using these skills are most powerful people in the world.
So after writing this article Betsy Chasse reminded me that there is one critical thing that we teach our clients that makes all the difference when it comes to “dirty fighting.” As I mentioned above your feelings are real and only you are responsible for them. The difficulty is we often have a back log of feelings. So often we are taking out old feelings on the person in front of us. So being able to identify feelings (only 34% of people can do this in the moment – quick test to see if you are one of them, in ten seconds can you name three feelings you are feeling right now? Oh and good, bad, fine, ok, and so-so don’t count) is critical and knowing where those feelings come from is vital. This is why we developed the app “Feeling Wheel” available in iTunes and our book “How Men Make Women Crazy and Visa Versa: Ending the Madness” has tools that you can start using today to bolster your natural born beauty and intuition. That is right, you are beautiful just the way you are dear mother, and it is this beauty and intuition that can heal relationships and eventually save the world.
Jami Keller is an executive Relationship Coach forPassionProvokers.com with twenty one years of relationship coaching experience, has been married to his wife and coaching partner, Marla, for 28 years and has two adult daughters, and one awesome son-in-law.